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Familiar styling hides big Mercedes G-Class changes

Still a ‘G’: Despite retaining a classic look that can be traced back to 1979, the G-Class is now 53mm longer and 121mm wider than before.

Mercedes-Benz reveals second-generation G-Class ahead of Q3 launch


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15 Jan 2018

NO NEED to adjust your screens, this is the next-generation Mercedes-Benz G-Class – previewed in its rugged, off-road-focused form ahead of an Australian launch in AMG guise during the third quarter this year.

Trainspotters may be hard pressed to spot any obvious sheet-metal changes, but the G-Class is now 53mm longer and 121mm wider than before, despite retaining its classic look that can be traced back to the G-Wagen 460 from 1979.

The distinctive doorhandles, external door hinges, exterior protective strip, exposed rear door-mounted spare wheel, unique indicator lights and surface-mounted bonnet from its predecessor carry over with minimal changes.

However, a keen eye will notice the narrower, more precise panel gaps and better-balanced transitions between surfaces.

The most obvious change is how the wheelarches and bumpers are deeply integrated into the rest of the body, eliminating their previous add-on look.

According to member of the board of Daimler AG responsible for group research and Mercedes-Benz cars development Ola Kallenius, the second-gen G-Class has reset the standard for dynamic off-roaders.

“The new G-Class is setting the bar higher still in all relevant areas – in terms of performance both on and off the road, as well as with regard to comfort and telematics,” he said. “Our ‘longest-serving’ model series is therefore ideally equipped to continue its success story. In short, the new ‘G’ is still a ‘G’, only better.” As such, the G-Class’ all-terrain chops have been further enhanced for the new model, thanks to a ladder-frame chassis, three 100-per-cent differential locks and a low-range off-road reduction gear.

Another key component is an all-new independent suspension set-up that consists of a double-wishbone front and rigid rear axles, with the former directly mounted on the ladder frame. This configuration resulted from a collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG.

As such, ground clearance to the front axle gear is 270mm, while maximum wading depth is up 100mm, to 700mm, and departure and approach angles are up one degree, to 30 and 31 degrees respectively.

Five Dynamic Select driving modes – including Comfort, Sport, Eco, Individual and G-Mode – are available, allowing the driver to adjust engine, transmission, suspension, steering and assistance system settings, as well as the adaptive dampers, when optioned.

G-Mode makes its debut in the G-Class and overrides the chosen alternative driving mode when one of the three differential locks or the low-range off-road reduction gear has been activated.

The system adapts chassis damping, modifies steering, adjusts accelerator characteristics and avoids unnecessary gearshifts to enable optimum control and maximum off-road capability.

A steady diet of strong, high-strength and ultra-high-strength steels for the body shell, and aluminium for the wings, bonnet and doors, has resulted in an overall weight loss of 170kg.

By being lighter on its feet, Mercedes-Benz claims the G-Class benefits from reduced noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels while improving driving dynamics and comfort.

Steering is now handled by an electromechanical rack-and-pinion system, which has allowed assistance features such as park assist to be added.

Overseas markets will initially take delivery of the G-Class in G500 guise from May, with this variant to be motivated by a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine.

Producing 310kW of power and 610Nm of torque from 2000rpm to 4750rpm, the G500 consumes a claimed 11.1 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle test while emitting 263 grams of carbon dioxide per km.

The G500 sends drive to all four wheels via a nine-speed torque-convertor automatic transmission.

While the G500 is not planned to land Down Under, the yet-to-be revealed Mercedes-AMG G63 has already been confirmed for an Australian launch, with a diesel-powered G-Class to join it towards the end of this year.

Like its other AMG siblings, the G63 is expected to employ the G500’s bent eight, albeit with a more potent tune – potentially up to 450kW/850Nm like the E63 S, but Benz is yet to announce specifics.

As previously reported, the G-Class interior has been subject to a significant redesign with a focus on upholding its off-road character, while adding top-class luxury appointments.

High-quality materials are in abundance, while the round headlights are mimicked by the side air vents and the loudspeakers are in the shape of the aforementioned indicators.

The grab handle facing the front passenger returns, as do the chrome-accented switch controls.

Nevertheless, the most drastic additions are the optional dual 12.3-inch displays, dubbed Windscreen Cockpit, that project the digital instrument cluster and multimedia system in Classic, Sport or Progressive forms.

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